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No one knows who in US makes policy on Russia: Journalist

US President Donald Trump (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin walk together at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, last year. (AP file photo)

American journalist and political commentator Don DeBar says no one really knows who's in the driver's seat in the United States in terms of making policy on Russia.  

DeBar made the remarks in a phone interview with Press TV on Monday while commenting on a statement of Russian President Vladimir Putin who said Washington’s abandoning a landmark nuclear treaty with Moscow threatens the world with the risk of another nuclear arms race.

Putin said on Monday that Washington’s exit from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) last year was a "grave mistake,” which increases “confrontational potential” between the world nuclear powers.

"We consider the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty, as a result of which it has ceased to operate, a serious mistake that increases the risks of unleashing a missile arms race,” Putin said.

The president said the INF was a key element “in maintaining predictability and restraint in the missile-related sector throughout Europe,” due to tensions between NATO and Russia.

Putin proposed to negotiate new mutual verification measures with Washington now that the INF is not in force.

“So we have the INF being abandoned by the United States. You have to understand the context,” Don DeBar told Press TV.

“The INF comes in in the 1980s, when intermediate-range nuclear missiles were placed by the United States in Europe, in Germany, and elsewhere. And what this meant in terms of the balance of power at the time. I was in Moscow in 1990, standing near the Arbat, in the middle of town. And a friend was pointing to the six buildings that were the large ministries for the government and industry at the time, where most of the senior executives of the government and industry worked. And he said to me ‘it takes 12 minutes for a cruise missile to get here with an intermediate-range nuclear warhead from Germany,’ and he pointed to the tops of the buildings and he said ‘it takes 18 minutes for someone to go from the elevator on the top floor to the hardened shelters in the basement of these ministries. And so even if they saw the launch, they can't get out of the way.’That was the condition under which the Soviet government-operated once the United States installed these missiles,” he explained.

“And so there was a huge pressure to resolve the problem, resulting in the INF Treaty and which was looked at as a great breakthrough at the time. At this moment, we now are in an age of hypersonic weapons. And so you actually have that kind of pressure with or without intermediate-range missiles in Europe. That's contextual to all of what I just said,” he said.  

“That being said, looking at the United States right now, it's difficult to figure out what the intent of the government is because it's difficult to know who the government is in terms of making policy towards Russia,” he added.

“On the one hand, Trump has claimed and played out and said publicly repeatedly that he would prefer to have good relations with Russia, rather than hostility. And the Congress - the Democratic and Republican parties - has taken a much more aggressive posture, even going back looking at sanctions that they voted to impose without the President's initiative, something like 506 to 11 back two and a half, three years ago. That's the context if we're looking at what decision making will be like making a new treaty,” he noted.

“Is it possible for President Trump to negotiate a treaty that would be acceptable to Russia? And then have it approved in the US Senate or publicly approved in the United States through the media? These are all really difficult problems, and no one really knows who's in the driver's seat in terms of making policy,” he said.

“I think when President Putin talks about the risk of nuclear war that he's pointing at these things that I just referred to as being really at the bottom of it, because you have an uncertain condition here, in terms of people that are operating under a siege mentality -  because of the nature of the weapons their placement on planet earth now is enough to induce that, because these hypersonic weapons are so fast, and no one knows really who's driving in Washington (if it's Washington or Langley, for example),” he concluded.

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